Hashigo Zake – cult beer bar
5 September 2011
“It’s …about approaching things with a garage mentality. It’s about playing around, making do and thinking outside the box.” Garage Project
I have heard of garages being used as pool rooms, bedrooms, meeting rooms and used for Samoan tattooing, hydroponic horticulture projects and parties, but I’d never heard of them being used for beer brewing, although I was not surprised. You see, garages the world over are for storing things, making things, and tinkering or experimenting with what has been stashed away or what comes to hand.
We are only just catching up with the Garage Project (because we have, y,know day jobs). It is an interesting brewing concept set in a local Wellington garage. Experimentation is at the heart of the Garage Project as is the challenge of working to a gruelling beer brewing timetable. According to the three brewers, Pete and Ian Gillespie and Jos Ruffell, the guiding principle of the Garage Project and motivator behind 24/24 – is to brew 24 new beers in 24 weeks. The brewers say they are “nano brewing” rather than micro brewing – they are working on a very small scale, enjoying the opportunity to experiment and be nimble in their process. You can read more about Garage Project http://garageproject.co.nz/WHY
We thought it was worth commenting on the Garage Project because it is building a profile and drawing a few keen drinkers down to the dark depths of Hashigo Zake – cult beer bar on Tuesday afternoons. Our engagement with the project began three beers ago, just before the half way point.
Here we check out two Garage project beers – brewed for weeks 11 and 12 of the big 24…
11/24 Red Rocks MP
We went to Hashigo Zake cult beer bar in downtown Wellington right on 5pm to find out what all the buzz was about. Waiting for us was Red Rocks, beer number 11 of 24. There were only 19 litres available.
Red Rocks is a hoppy red ale, named after the sea shore location of the same name on Wellingtons south coast. Yes, the rocks are actually red in places. The Jesuit and I had a half pint off the tap. It looked good and tasted great. The Jesuit decided that it was “Not as hoppy and not as overwhelming as a New World IPA”. He remarked “It is very Belgian!” After a few sips a sour after taste becomes apparent. It was a good drop and one we got through quickly, but we left before the keg dripped dry.
There were little square feedback coasters for the Garage project (see image) with the questions “What did you drink?” and “What did you think?” They asked us to rate the beer, from 5 (great) to 1 (not so great). We gave it 3.5…
Red Rocks went well with the chocolate brownies they were serving at the bar to celebrate Hashigo Zake’s 2nd birthday (more on Hashigo Zake in a future post); it was an unusual combination consumed in the spirit of experimentation. I’m sure the Garage project lads were into that.
12 September 2011
12/24 Salt and Pepper Porter MP
The Jesuit and I were joined on the 12th by gingerbeardyman and Karori Pai Ita at Hashigo Zake for the release of the Salt and Pepper porter. Once again there were only 19 litres which was a pity because it was really more-ish. The beers were served quite cold and gingerbeardyman would have preferred his beer a bit warmer. He said it had hints of pepper on the nose, and was a little bit briny. It had faint coffee tones and a dryness of taste.
“Best to drink after dinner with a
cheese platter before you start on the whiskey…”
We had a chance to talk with one of the brewers Jos Ruffell who was in attendance. It was great to hear first hand from him of the projects origins; about the transformation of an Aro Valley garage into a Health and Hygiene certified premises, and that the old sofa in the garage was bigger than the actual brew kit.
Aaaah…three guys making beer in their garage and selling it to random people…it’s that Kiwi do it yourself thing. Made the Jesuit go misty eyed about his punk days playing bass in a garage in Christchurch.
Garage Project http://garageproject.co.nz/WHO
Pint-sized brewery opens in Wellington by Jono Galuszka
Beer Diary Podcast episode 5: The Garage Project by Phil Cook